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Liver Disease

The Liver Disease and Transplant Program at the Texas Transplant Institute, on the campus of Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital, is led by a group of physicians who have more than 60 years of combined expertise in all aspects of liver disease management, and transplant procedures.

Hepatitis C is the number one cause of liver cancer and liver transplantation. Our team is very aggressive in treating hepatitis C prior to transplant and follows strict protocols in the care of post-transplant patients with hepatitis C. We have improved cure rates from about 50 percent to almost 99 percent with minimal side effects and medication interactions.

We offer a dedicated clinical research program that is developing protocols to treat liver failure and find better treatment options to delay or avoid transplants.

Our program is the only liver program in South Texas to offer an innovative therapy for patients with endoscopic variceal obturation. The procedure involves using tissue adhesives, such a cyanoacrylate, in patients who bleed from gastric fundal varices. This procedure is referred to as ‘glue injection of gastric varices.’



Understanding Liver Disease

The liver is the second largest organ in the body. It is located under the rib cage in the right upper part of the abdomen. The liver can be affected by a variety of illnesses, including viral hepatitis, cirrhosis, alcohol-related liver disorders and liver cancer.

There are five known types of viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver caused by infection. A different virus causes each. The different forms of hepatitis can be spread in different ways. According to the American Liver Foundation, hepatitis can spread through contact with contaminated food or water, stool, blood, and other body fluids. Hepatitis can also spread from a woman to her baby during childbirth.

Many people with hepatitis don't have symptoms, but those who do may have a tender or enlarged liver, fever, weakness, nausea, vomiting or jaundice. Some people recover from hepatitis without treatment, but others develop chronic illness. Vaccines can help prevent hepatitis A and B.

Cirrhosis develops when liver cells are damaged and replaced by scar tissue. Cirrhosis is caused most often by alcohol abuse. Other causes include hepatitis and other viruses, some chemicals and poisons, too much iron or copper in the body, and severe reactions to drugs.

Doctors can treat some types of cirrhosis, but often there is no cure. Treatments are frequently aimed at managing major complications of cirrhosis, such as bleeding, changes in mental function and fluid buildup in the abdomen.

In addition to causing cirrhosis, alcohol can cause other liver diseases. Fatty liver is the most common alcohol-related liver disorder. Often this condition will completely reverse itself if the person gives up alcohol.

Alcoholic hepatitis is a short-term illness that may cause abdominal pain, fever, enlarged liver and elevated white blood cell counts. If you have alcoholic hepatitis and don't stop drinking, cirrhosis can develop.

Most cancer found in the liver is actually cancer that has spread from some other part of the body. Cancer that starts in the liver appears to be associated with viral hepatitis, other infections, drugs and environmental toxins.

Most liver diseases are poorly understood. A liver transplant is generally the only effective treatment for life-threatening liver diseases. However, new treatments are being developed, and research continues on ways to prevent liver disease.

Liver failure means that a large part of your liver has become damaged and is no longer able to function. It is a life-threatening condition that demands urgent medical care.

The first symptoms of liver failure are often nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and diarrhea. Because these symptoms can have any number of causes, liver failure may be initially difficult to diagnose. However, as liver failure progresses, the symptoms become more serious. The patient may become jaundice, confused and disoriented, bruise and bleed easily, and become extremely sleepy. There is a risk of coma and death. Immediate treatment is needed, and the only treatment option may be a liver transplant.

Liver failure may develop rapidly (acute) or gradually (chronic). Chronic liver failure develops slowly over the course of years and usually due to long term alcohol use or hepatitis. Acute liver failure occurs suddenly and is usually a reaction to poisoning or a medication overdose.

Patients with life-threatening liver disease should be considered for liver transplantation. Our medical experts, social, and financial specialists are always available to answer questions and provide assistance regarding liver transplantation.


Hepatobiliary Surgery

Our surgeons are trained in advanced techniques involving liver, pancreas and biliary surgery focusing on the operative removal of tumors of the liver, pancreas, bile ducts and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.

We offer expert care for patients with bile duct injuries and biliary strictures, cystic lesions of the liver and patients with cholangiocarcinomas.

Our surgeons and interventional radiologists offer surgical interventions in liver resection, intraoperative ultrasound and radiofrequency ablation.

Liver Diseases and Procedures

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Metastatic liver tumors
  • Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma
  • Liver cysts and polycystic disease
  • Cirrhosis
  • Benign liver tumors:tumor, cysts, hemangioma
  • Focal nodular hyperplasia
  • Hepatic adenoma
  • Liver transplantation
  • Surgery for portal hypertension
  • Radiofrequency and microwave ablation (laparoscopic and open)